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Effects and Results of Controlling, Taming and Corruption of the Human Tongue in Islam

Effects and Results of Controlling, Taming and Corruption of the Human Tongue in IslamAllah (SWT) the Exalted said in Noble Qur'an: "There is no good in most of their secret counsels except (in his) who enjoins charity or goodness or reconciliation between people and whoever does this seeking Allah's pleasure, We will give him a mighty reward." [Sura An-Nisa 4:114]

Imam Sajjad (as) says in Risalat Al-Huquq (Treatise On Rights): And the right of the tongue is that you consider it too noble for obscenity, accustom it to good, direct it to politeness, do not use it except in situations of needs and benefits of the religion and this world. As well as refraining from any meddling in which there is little to be gained. There is no security from its harm that accompanies its small benefits. It is the witness to and the evidence of the existence of the intellect. The demonstration of an intelligent person's intellect is through their reputation of good speech. There is no power but in Allah (SWT) the High, the Great.

Undoubtedly, our tongue is one of our greatest blessings. The tongue with the ability to speak is a gift that Allah (SWT) has bestowed on man in His creation. This has been stated in the following verse in Noble Qur'an: "He has created man: He has taught him speech (and intelligence)." [Sura Rahman 55:3-4]

However, not everyone appreciates this gift. These days, our gatherings are filled with unrestrained conversations that consist of useless or even harmful talk.

In Arabic, speech has been defined as "uncovering" an object. Our tongue expresses our inner thoughts and feelings. Our speech uncovers our inner thoughts and expresses what we think. If it was not for our ability to speak, we would communicate like animals. There would be no more discussing, explaining and understanding amongst men.

Using speech as a means getting to know others: There are various ways to get to know each person. One of way is through speech. Each person introduces his own personality when they speak. Our dialogue clearly expresses our inner purity or wickedness. One can tell whether you are a good or a corrupt person through your speech. The tongue will unveil the curtain and display our real character. Meaning speech reflects our thoughts and mentality as well as how morality or its opposite is spread through society.

Imam Baqir (as) says: "A man is hidden behind his tongue."

Eleanor Roosevelt says: "Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people."

The nature of verbal sins:

Imam Ali (as) says: "Its mass is small, but its sin is great."

This wise saying clearly states how our little tongue can be used to create great sins. Each of the body parts that Allah (SWT) has given us has a specific characteristics and purpose. Some have certain limitations as well. For example, the eye can only see certain colors. The ears can only hear sounds. The hands can only feel through touch. However, the tongue has a wide range of application extending from wickedness and dishonesty to goodness and prosperity. If used in a good sense, it can lead to human prosperity and if used in an evil way, it can be the biggest means by which Satan can misguide us.

An Islamic perspective: Effects of the Human Tongue on social improvement or corruption

An Islamic perspective: Effects of the Human Tongue on social improvement or corruptionThere are various ways to achieve social improvement or corruption. Speaking is one of the most effective means to achieve either. An influential speaker can direct the human society towards noble characteristics and individual values. Likewise, they can lead a society towards moral and spiritual decay or corruption. They can easily agitate the still nation and excite them to move and change their lives or even direct the aroused feelings of calmness and pacification.

An example of this would be when Imam Ali (as) was martyred in Kufa. The news of His death was spread throughout the Muslim communities. When the news of his martyrdom in the prayer niche reached Sham (Syria), all the people were surprised. They were so influenced by the speeches (rumour) delivered against Imam Ali (as) by the men hired by Muawiyah ibn Abu Sufyan that they asked themselves, "Did Imam Ali pray?" The extent of the influence of the tongue is so much that as you can see the most pious man who lived his whole lifetime to establish the prayer, is presented as being one who does not pray in the minds of the Syrians.

Busr ibn Arta'ah and the Hamdan Tribe:

When Muawiyah ibn Abu Sufyan sent Busr ibn Arta'ah to the Hamdan Tribe to rule, Busr ibn Arta'ah exercised so much oppression and committed so many crimes that no one dared to object. At this time, a brave lady called Sawdah went to Sham (Syria) to defend the sacred religion and the people. When Muawiyah ibn Abu Sufyan was informed of her arrival, he was surprised. He said that he was trying to arrest her with no results. Now she had gone there on her own. He admitted her to the court. When she entered, she bitterly greeted Muawiyah ibn Abu Sufyan.

Muawiyah ibn Abu Sufyan said: "See! You had to come and greet me." Sawdah replied: "Do not be proud of your rule. There is a term for everything. It will soon end. Do not be so attached to your position since it will not last." Muawiyah ibn Abu Sufyan said: "O' Sawdah! Do you remember the days of war when you sang heroic poetry among the soldiers of Imam Ali? What was your goal then? Was it not my destruction? Sing them now." Sawdah said: "Your oppression has made me forget everything. Now I have come to complain against the oppression of Busr ibn Arta'ah. He has oppressed us. He has confiscated the people's property, and has murdered the men." Muawiyah ibn Abu Sufyan said: "Now I will send you to him to treat you as he pleases."

Then Sawdah said: "May Allah (SWT) bless the pure body that is buried, with whom justice was buried too." Muawiyah ibn Abu Sufyan said: "Whom are you referring to?" Sawdah replied: "I am referring to my Master, Imam Ali (as)." You should know that I had a similar complaint that I expressed to Imam Ali (as) before. Imam Ali (as) was a lone and wanted to start his prayers. When he noticed me, he asked the reason. When I told him that I had come to complain against his governor, he touched his beard and his eyes overflowed with tears and he said: "O' Allah (SWT)! Be a witness that I did not send my governor to oppress your servants." He then wrote the order to fire the governor and handed it to me. Now you threaten me instead of considering my complaint. This is the difference between Imam Ali (as) and you.

Muawiyah ibn Abu Sufyan got upset and wrote a letter to Busr ibn Arta'ah to stop his crimes and acts of oppression. Thus, we can see that the tongue can be used as an effective tool. It is so effective that it can even be used to change the views of a cruel man such as Muawiyah ibn Abu Sufyan. Then Muawiyah ibn Abu Sufyan said: "It was Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib who made you too proud by saying: If I were the gatekeeper of Heaven I will tell the Bani Hamdan tribe to safely enter Heaven."

The Philosophy behind silence: More Listening, Less Talking

The Philosophy behind silenceThere is a certain stress placed on silence in some traditions. This stress is such that we can prefer silence to speaking. What is the philosophy behind this silence? When is it recommended?

As said, the tongue reflects what is in the heart. It expresses one's inner feelings and thoughts. It portrays one's character and personality. There are also possible harms due to its use. Imam Ali (as) says: "The tongue is a beast that will cause an injury when unleashed." Imam Ali (as) also says: "Man is a wonderful creature; he sees through the layers of fat (eyes), hears through a bone (ears) and speaks through a lump of flesh (tongue)."

A person must ask himself before saying anything: "Is there any need for me to talk?" If there is a need, then it is fine to talk. Otherwise, silence is better because refraining from unnecessary speech is a form of worship. Abdullah ibn Masood (RadhiAllahu Anhu) said: "I swear by the One besides Whom there is nothing worthy of worship: one's need to imprison their tongue is greater than anything else."

Silence: The easiest form of worship

Prophet Muhammad (saw) says: "Do you want me to inform you about the easiest and least straining form of worship? They are being silent and having a good temper."

An Arab came to Prophet Muhammad (saw) and asked him to teach him something to enable him to go to Heaven. Prophet Muhammad (saw) said: "Feed the hungry. Quench the thirst of the thirsty. Advise the people to do good deeds and admonish them against evil deeds. If you do not have any power, just guard your tongue from whatever is not good."

Also Prophet Muhammad (saw) says: "A believer's tongue is located behind his heart. Whenever he wants to talk, he first presents his words to his heart. If the heart approves of what he wants to say it issues an order to the tongue to utter the words. However, if the heart does not issue a permit, then the lips stay sealed. But a hypocrite's tongue is the leader of his heart. Whenever he wills to say something, he utters it without the approval of his heart."

It has been narrated that some people were talking together in Muawiyah ibn Abu Sufyan's palace. Al-Ahnaf ibn Qays was quietly sitting in a corner. They asked him: "O' Aba Bahr! Why don't you talk?" He said: "If I lie, I shall fear Allah (SWT). Moreover, if I tell the truth, I shall fear you. Thus it is best that I do not talk at all." The importance of silence became clear from the traditions cited. We learned that man could remain secure from the dangerous potential of committing a sin in talking by remaining silent. An intelligent person first trusts his words to his intellect and conscience to judge before uttering them. If the intellect and conscience do not give him permission to express those words, then he remains silent. The traditions that encourage us to remain silent are meant to free us from the potential bad consequences of bad talk. It is obvious that talking is an important factor in the development of man and the society as stated before.

First think and then say something: Speak No Evil, Avoid Harmful Talk

Speak No Evil, Avoid Harmful TalkThe train has started moving. It is packed with people of all ages, mostly with the working men and women and young college boys and girls. Near the window seated an old man with his thirty year old son. As the train moves by, the son is overwhelmed with joy as he was thrilled with the scenery outside.

"See dad, the scenery of green trees moving away is very beautiful."

This behaviour from a thirty year old son made the other people feel strange about him. Every one started murmuring something or other about this thirty year old son. "This person seems to be mad," a newlywed man whispered to his wife.

Suddenly it started raining. Rain drops fell on the travelers through the open window. The thirty year old son, filled with joy said to his father, "See dad, how beautiful the rain is."

The newly married man's wife was irritated with the rain drops spoiling her new suit.

The husband said to the father, "can't you see its raining you old man, if your son is not well, then get him soon to a mental asylum and do not disturb the public henceforth."

The old man hesitated at first and then in a low tone replied, "We are on the way back from the hospital. My son got discharged this morning. He was blind from birth. Last week, he got his vision. The rain and nature are all new to his eyes. Please forgive us for the inconvenience that we may have caused."

The things we see may be right from our perspective until we know the truth. But when we know the truth our reaction to that will hurt even us. So try to understand the problem better before taking a harsh action.

As the saying goes, it is better to light up a candle instead of blaming the darkness. Or as per another saying: Two things never return back an arrow left from the bow and words said from the mouth.

Islamic Sayings about the Tongue and its Evils: Avoid Idle Talk, Islam and Evil Tongue

Islamic Sayings about the Tongue and its EvilsProphet Muhammad (saw) said: "The destruction of man lies in three (things): his stomach, his lusts, and his tongue."

Prophet Muhammad (saw) said: "Among all things, the tongue deserves to be prisoned longer than anything else." (Because most of our sins are committed by it, such as backbiting, telling lies, defaming, mocking, insulting, gossiping etc.)

Prophet Muhammad (saw) said: "Affliction caused by the tongue is worse than (that caused by) the strike of the blade of a sword."

Imam Ali (as) said: "Do contemplate (survey visually or mentally) before speaking so that you may guard yourself from (committing) errs."

Imam Ali (as) said: "A fool's mind is at the mercy of his tongue and a wise man's tongue is under the control of his mind."

Imam Ali (as) said: "A wise man first thinks and then speaks, and a fool speaks and then thinks."

Imam Ali (as) said: "One who is quick in saying unpleasant things about others, will himself quickly become a target to their scandal."

Imam Ali (as) said: "A man can be values through his sayings." and "The wiser a man is, the less talkative he will be."

Imam Ali (as) said: "One who has no control over his tongue will often have to face embarrassment and discomfort."

Imam Ali (as) said: "The tongue is such a ferocious beast that if let loose, it will act ravenously."

Imam Baqir (as) said: "No one is safe from sins unless the one controls his/her tongue."

An Islamic perspective: What corrupts the Tongue?

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Islamic Moral Stories is designed by Akramulla Syed Last Updated: Thursday, November 17, 2016